Syrian Refugee Crisis: N.H. Reacts

Sep 15, 2015
DFID - UK Department for International Development / Flickr/CC

As migrants from Syria and other countries pour into Europe, President Obama says the United States will take ten thousand. And so Americans are watching and considering our own capacity to take in refugees, and other ways to address the root problems that are driving so many people out their home countries.


Hannah McCarthy/NHPR

The late June morning grows warmer as seven refugee farmers till their new plots at Lewis Farm in Concord. This is the second "incubator" farm established by the Organization for Refugee and Immigrant Success, or ORIS. After the success of their first location, the organization established another to meet the interest of their clients.

Jack Rodolico

New immigrants often face an unexpected challenge: how to navigate away from an American diet that takes a toll on your health? That’s becoming easier in New Hampshire due to a network of markets and farms that carry familiar foods for the state’s foreign residents.

New Hampshire is home to a small but growing immigrant population; about one in 20 Granite Staters are foreign born. And there’s an experience that unites many of them: that bewildering first visit to an American grocery store.

The 13th annual Laconia Multicultural Festival will be held Saturday.

David Stamps is one of the event’s organizers and says it has grown to include more than 80 vendors and two music stages.

But he says it also hasn’t gotten away from its roots.

“We have a lot of nonprofits who participate. We have a lot of refugees, first Americans, and many Franco-Americans. It’s just such a variety.”

The downtown festival runs from 10 to 4 and opens with a Parade of Flags.

Ryan Lessard / NHPR

A new program helps refugees earn money by training stay-at-home moms to be entrepreneurs in the child care industry.

Bhutanese Community of N.H.

In November, a Bhutanese refugee living in Concord killed himself. Nationally, Bhutanese refugees have the highest suicide rate of any refugee population. And here in New Hampshire, where nearly 2,000 Bhutanese refugees have resettled in the last six years, the community is scrambling to answer the questions ‘why does this happen?’ and ‘how do we prevent it?’

acuoptimist / Flickr Creative Commons

A new documentary by New Hampshire filmmaker Doria Bramante follows exiles from the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan as they abandon their twenty-year effort to return home from Nepalese refugee camps and decide to seek a new life in America. Many of these refugees have resettled in the New Hampshire cities of Concord, Manchester, and Laconia. Today we take a look at their incredible journey…along with the challenges and successes of starting over in the Granite State.


Refugee Documentary Screens In Concord

Nov 4, 2013

An independent documentary produced and directed by two Durham residents chronicles the journey of three refugee families, from their home country of Bhutan to resettlement here in New Hampshire.

The documentary, The Refugees of Shangri-Law, follows the long journey of three families, from the mountains of Nepal to the neighborhoods of the Granite State.

“There was never a strong emphasis on resettlement here in Nepal. It’s no longer that way.” ... Montage of interviews... “That’s why we want to go to America.”

It may be the largest war in the world that we don’t hear about. The death toll of what is now called the Great War of Africa likely stretches into the millions.

Hank Osborne / Lutheran Social Services

Lawmakers and members of the public met in Concord today to learn more about refugee resettlement efforts in New Hampshire. The breakfast gathering was organized by Lutheran Social Services, a non-profit that offers new refugees a range of services including short-term housing and English-language training.

Steve Duprey, a prominent real estate developer, helped launch a work-skills program in conjunction with Lutheran Social Services for new arrivals. He says it is one of the best moves he’s made in business.

For the past few years they’ve been our state’s largest incoming refugee group with hundreds coming every year.  A new documentary explores their journeys from nearly twenty years in refugee camps to new lives in the Granite State. We’ll hear their stories, their challenges and hopes for a new life in America. 


Manchester resident Beatrice Munyenyezi goes on trial on charges she lied about her involvement in the Rwandan genocide to come to the United States and obtain US citizenship.

If that sounds familiar, that's because Munyenyezi was on trial earlier this year on the same charges, but the jury couldn't agree on a verdict and the judge declared a mistrial.

Taylor Quimby for NHPR

A rally was held in Concord today in reaction to racist graffiti discovered last weekend on the home of Somali refugees in the city’s South End. The crime is being linked to last September’s unsolved incident when three homes were targeted in the same neighborhood.  

By noon, about a hundred people had gathered on Thompson street in Concord’s South End.

Ten minutes later, the number had doubled.

Photo by the Concord Police Department

Concord’s mayor Jim Bouley says the city isn’t going to tolerate hate crime against its refugee residents. On Sunday morning, a racist message written in black permanent marker appeared on the house of a Somali family in the city’s South End. Bouley stopped by NHPR to talk about this latest incident, which was nearly identical to graffiti that appeared on three refugee homes last fall.

As part of our year-long series on New Hampshire's Immigration Story, we've looked at what it's like for a refugee to arrive in New Hampshire, speaking a different language, and having to learn new customs.

For young refugees who enroll in New Hampshire schools, the challenges can be even greater - and the same goes for teachers working with them.

jozecuervo via Flickr Creative Commons

Every group that has arrived here has experienced some conflict – whether between newcomers and long-time residents…or, within new immigrant groups themselves.  As part of our series on New Hampshire’s Immigration Story, we’ll look at what difficulties tend to come up, again and again – also, how different people draw the lines between assimilation and maintaining their culture. 



Refugees Start Fresh on the Farm

May 22, 2012
Todd Bookman/NHPR

As a farmer in Bhutan, Laxmi Narayan Mishre provided food and stability for his family.

But when ethnic tensions flared in the small Himalayan country, his land was seized.

With his wife and ten children, Mishre would spend the next two decades living in a cramped refugee camp in neighboring Nepal. Rumors swirled about a possible resettlement to America, and what life would be like here.

North Country representatives split along party lines in voting Tuesday on a bill that would allow towns and cities to have a one-year moratorium on having refugees settle in their jurisdictions.

Seven were in favor. Seven against. Two were excused from voting.

As NHPR has reported the bill previously passed the House but had trouble when it reached the Senate.

The Associated Press is reporting the bill was revived:

Sam Evans-Brown


A senate committee has voted to send a bill that would allow communities to ask for a one year moratorium on refugee resettlement for further study.

The committee voted 3-1 to refer the bill to interim study, with Senator David Boutin from Hooksett dissenting. That vote is a polite way of asking the full senate to let the measure die quietly.

Committee Chair Senator Jack Barnes says he doesn’t think the state legislature has the authority to pass this bill.

Sam Evans-Brown


A bill that would allow communities to ask for a one-year moratorium on refugee resettlement has made it to a Senate Committee, but critics of the bill are piling up.


North Country representatives overwhelmingly voted in favor of House Bill 1405 which would allow jurisdictions such as Manchester to ask for a moratorium on refugee resettlement.

As NHPR reported: “Under the bill New Hampshire towns could ask for a one-year moratorium on new refugee resettlements, which opponents say the state doesn’t have the authority to do.”


The New Hampshire House of Representatives voted today to pass a bill that would allow the city of Manchester to ask for a moratorium on refugee resettlement.

The bill is a seen as a victory for Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas, who has been calling for a moratorium since last July.

How the Darjees Pay the Bills

Mar 13, 2012

It’s a Friday night at the Darjee home. After a long work week, Ram, his wife Saraswarti, their daughter Angel and Ram’s mother are preparing for a fun evening with relatives.

(sound up)

Sitting with the Darjees, it’s hard to imagine that just 9 months ago they were living in squalor in a refugee camp in Nepal.  Their apartment now has comfortable furnishings, colorful decorations lining the walls, a computer and lots of cooking equipment to prepare a nice meal.

(sound of cooking and talking )

In our series, New Hampshire’s Immigration Story, we’ve talked about how immigrants and refugees have affected New Hampshire’s economy, health care system, law enforcement, schools, now we look at art. Last year photographer Mary Catherine Jones began an ongoing photo series called “New Faces New Hampshire” featuring portraits and images of refugees and immigrants in Manchester. She joined NHPR’s Brady Carlson to talk about her photo series.

You can view some of the photos here.

New Hampshire’s Immigration Story includes the stories of many refugees, people who come to the United States because they can't stay in their native countries, due to violence or famine.

Many of those refugees are resettled in Manchester, but the city’s mayor, Ted Gatsas, says that needs to change. He wants a moratorium on new placements to avoid straining city services.

Photo by Moe M, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Pastor Joel Kruggel of the Bethany Covenant Church in Bedford talks about his congregation's work providing Sudanese refugees with their own place of worship, as well as computer literacy classes and computers. 



To donate, contact The Bethany Covenant Church

More about the Sudanese Evangelical Covenant Church in Manchester

timsackton / Flickr/Creative Commons

It takes a lot of effort, determination, and bravery to come to a new country as a refugee and learn not only a new language but a new culture.

One could compare it to climbing a mountain.

A Manchester resident is going to climb a few mountains himself to raise money for the city’s refugees.

Starting tomorrow, Dan Szczesny aims to climb New Hampshire’s 4000 foot peaks… all 48 of them… in a month.

But first he joins us in the studio to talk about the project.

Concord Residents Rally to Support Refugees

Sep 28, 2011
Elaine Grant / NHPR

At least 200 people wore yellow, waved signs, and pledged unity with their neighbors, saying hateful actions against refugees don't represent the Concord they know.

As Namory Keita and the West African Drummers played, the crowd swelled. People drifted in, many wearing yellow shirts. 

They picked up yellow and black signs proclaiming Love Your Neighbor. Soon, the lawn was a sea of yellow.

A series of speakers denounced the crime that occurred early this month – one that shocked people here in the state capitol.

Outcasts United

Sep 12, 2011

In 2009, we spoke with new York Times reporter Warren St. John about his book Outcasts United– which tells the story of the Fugees soccer team and the growth of community around them.  The book is currently being featured in the Concord Reads program at the Concord Public Library.  Concord is a city that has experienced its own influx of refugees from war torn countries in recent years.  Here is what Warren had to say about the Fugees' inspiring story.


From Burundi to Burma, from Afghanistan to Uzbekistan, refugees from around the globe have been placed in New Hampshire to start their lives anew.  Here they find new freedoms and far less dangers but new challenges as well.  Many have to learn English, the American laws, become educated and find work.  Federal programs help a lot but so do the cities and towns in which they are placed.  Now Manchester wants to put a moratorium on any new refugees resettling here.  City officials worry that they currently don't have enough resources to assist its current residents and with tight budgets get